House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

by Woody Guthrie

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House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:54 pm

From the Introduction (pg. xliii):

Oscar Wilde was right: “Literature always anticipates life.” It’s almost as if Guthrie had written House of Earth prophetically, with global warming in mind.


What do you think?
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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby Charlene » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:53 pm

Anything can become prophesy with hindsight. History/politics seem to be twisted or tweaked all the time......we just haven't succumbed to rewriting history (or have we) like Orwell's 1984. I don't think he had a prophesy, I think he was just writing what he saw He was living it. He had no grand plans for avoiding another one...he just saw the advantages of Adobe Houses. The scene in the barn....he was more worried his 5 cents brochure was getting wrinkled...than his wife's comfort. If he could have written his story and published it in a penny weekly for adults, maybe more people would have learned about Adobe Houses, while being titallated with the rest of the story. I loved his whole rant on the Adobe House problem...that the people who really needed them...couldn't afford the land to build one on. It was Catch 22. So, I wonder, did the Adobe Houses ever catch on in that part of the country in the last century based on the Dept of Agriculture's brochures. It was a brilliant idea, but it certainly wasn't new. In the end, I just don't recall him taking a global view of the problem....but I certainly felt like I was experiencing the problem with him with every piece of paper he slapped on the wall with glue to keep the dust out.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:32 pm

Thanks for starting us off, Charlene. And great to see you back here in Noodlemantraland. We’ve missed you. :bounce:

You raise some good questions here.

I just think it interesting that this book would turn up now, when global warming seems to be reeking havoc on our weather patterns and our land. It just seems like the Dust Bowl was a foreshadowing of future events. I think that many have forgotten about it or didn't even know about it. And Woody (or Johnny and Douglas) have reminded us of these events and the lessons we should have learned from them.


Charlene wrote:but I certainly felt like I was experiencing the problem with him with every piece of paper he slapped on the wall with glue to keep the dust out.

:lol: That whole wallpapering thing was just bizarre to me.
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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:44 pm

I think the wall papering....and actually, almost all of the entire book .... would have made little or no sense to me if I had not watched the Ken Burns Dust Bowl series on PBS. Apparently my history education was lacking in a lot of information because I don't remember learning most of this in school!

One thing the series pointed out was the rate at which we are using up the Ogallala Aquifer's water and the possibility that we have learned nothing from our past and that another Dust Bowl is in our future if we don't change our ways. I live in a farming community in a farming state and I drive past fields that have corn planted so thickly you wonder how air and sun can reach the leaves. I have watched as the chemicals are poured into the soil to fertilize these super-producing crops and prevent unwanted vegetation from sprouting. For years my husband and I have lamented as we have watched trees uprooted and removed to allow a few more square feet to be cultivated and to allow the irrigation systems to work unimpeded. It is such a different world from the days when I walked bare-footed in a furrow behind my daddy's plow collecting earth worms for him to use when he went fishing. :-/

But even with all of that said, I am not sure Woody intended his story as a prophecy or even a warning about history repeating itself. I think he merely wanted a vehicle to point out the grim reality of the misery the Dust Bowl caused ordinary people so that we would truly understand the cost in human terms. I think his purpose was more to point out the inequities created by greed, by the bankers and the landlords, than he was trying to illustrate the damage caused by bad farming practices. For me, his story was much more about relationships and the unequal advantages in life created by having or not having money. It was part of his socialism message rather than an environmental one. It could be a story set in a modern slum with today's powerless poor as easily as set in rural Texas Dust Bowl.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:24 am

I agree with what Nebraska and Charlene have both written there and I can't add anything.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:31 am

nebraska wrote:I think the wall papering....and actually, almost all of the entire book .... would have made little or no sense to me if I had not watched the Ken Burns Dust Bowl series on PBS. Apparently my history education was lacking in a lot of information because I don't remember learning most of this in school!

One thing the series pointed out was the rate at which we are using up the Ogallala Aquifer's water and the possibility that we have learned nothing from our past and that another Dust Bowl is in our future if we don't change our ways. I live in a farming community in a farming state and I drive past fields that have corn planted so thickly you wonder how air and sun can reach the leaves. I have watched as the chemicals are poured into the soil to fertilize these super-producing crops and prevent unwanted vegetation from sprouting. For years my husband and I have lamented as we have watched trees uprooted and removed to allow a few more square feet to be cultivated and to allow the irrigation systems to work unimpeded. It is such a different world from the days when I walked bare-footed in a furrow behind my daddy's plow collecting earth worms for him to use when he went fishing. :-/

But even with all of that said, I am not sure Woody intended his story as a prophecy or even a warning about history repeating itself. I think he merely wanted a vehicle to point out the grim reality of the misery the Dust Bowl caused ordinary people so that we would truly understand the cost in human terms. I think his purpose was more to point out the inequities created by greed, by the bankers and the landlords, than he was trying to illustrate the damage caused by bad farming practices. For me, his story was much more about relationships and the unequal advantages in life created by having or not having money. It was part of his socialism message rather than an environmental one. It could be a story set in a modern slum with today's powerless poor as easily as set in rural Texas Dust Bowl.


Excellent post Nebraska! I totally agree. I'll come back after work and add more.
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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:04 pm

A prophesy - can't really say - mainly because I don't believe in Global warming. I think the weather and the earth goes through a pattern. Remember the Ice Age and now we are too hot. Some summers are hotter and dustier than others and some winters are colder. e.i. our Ice storm a few years ago and this winter much milder. I realize that we must care for our earth and help when we can in how we live. But there is alot of countrys and areas that really don't care. Guess that means that we must care even more. i think that Woody's book was meant to make us aware of what the people of that time and area had to deal with. And perhaps teach us to be more vigil.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:25 pm

I think there are many people who feel Global Warming is at least partly the natural cycle of the earth, which has been going on for millions of years, cold to hot and back again. I know my husband espouses that viewpoint. I also believe that as humans we are not careful enough with our world; but then again, the self-interests of the powerful and wealthy come into the equation when it comes to environmental issues, and Woody certainly would have understood that factor.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:24 pm

I don’t know that it is prophetic so much as that it speaks directly to some universal truths – namely that man’s greed, when left unchecked, is a horrifically destructive force.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:38 pm

Here is a great article on the Texas drought that is very relevant to our discussion. I don't think it is necessary to believe in the concept that mankind is altering climate. It only makes sense to take prudent action, which seems to be what the Texas legislature is doing. This article appeared in the New York Times on April 6, 2013:

NEWS ANALYSIS
Getting Serious About a Texas-Size Drought


By KATE GALBRAITH
Published: April 6, 2013

AUSTIN, Tex.

SOMETHING odd happened here last week.

It rained.

But the relief, an answer to desperate prayers, is likely to be short-lived. The drought that has gripped much of Texas since the fall of 2010 shows few signs of abating soon. The latest forecasts say that parched West and South Texas will remain dry, and that the state is likely to see above-average temperatures this spring, increasing evaporation from already strained reservoirs. The conditions could lead to severe water restrictions in some parts of the state.

The implications have finally sunk in among lawmakers and business leaders here, who like to boast about the economic appeal of Texas’s low taxes and relaxed regulatory environment: no water equals no business. In a state fabled for its everything-is-bigger mentality, the idea of conserving resources is beginning to take hold. They are even turning sewage into drinking water.

The overwhelmingly conservative and tightfisted Texas House of Representatives recently voted to create a fund to finance water development and conservation projects and is considering allocating $2 billion to jump-start it. The State Senate is weighing a similar measure. The state’s water plan, released last year, recommends spending $57 billion (in 2013 dollars) over the next half-century to ensure there is enough water to go around; Texas’s population of 26 million is expected to grow by 80 percent by 2060.

Texas is also suing neighboring states to get more water. The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in two weeks in one of these cases, in which the authority that supplies water to Fort Worth and fast-growing surrounding communities is demanding more water from Oklahoma. Texas has accused New Mexico of siphoning off more than its share of water from the Rio Grande. The state is likewise arguing that under an international agreement, it is entitled to more water from Mexico, which has also been stricken by drought.

Other desperately dry states in the Midwest and West are facing similar challenges. Drought has hurt farmers in New Mexico and reduced California’s crucial mountain snowpack. Even the Great Lakes are at worryingly low levels. Drought conditions in the western half of the country are likely to persist at least through June, federal forecasters have warned. Over time, as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, hotter weather and longer dry spells will continue to threaten water supplies that are essential for development.

Already the drought has led to consideration of wild, expensive ideas, like piping water hundreds of miles from the Missouri River to the parched Colorado River basin. Water traditionally has been mostly a state or local issue because communities draw supplies from nearby rivers or aquifers. But increasingly it is becoming a national one. Economies will rise and fall on the availability of water, whose price is inexorably marching upward. Litigation and rural-urban water conflicts are likely to intensify throughout the West and Midwest.

“Texas does not and will not have enough water” in a bad drought, the state’s water plan warned last year. More than two dozen communities could run out of water in 180 days, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Looking ahead, the already-dry western half of the state is expected to be hit particularly hard by climate change. State leaders generally accept such projections, even as they question the scientific consensus that humans are a major cause of climate change.

Officials from Gov. Rick Perry on down are focused on expanding water supplies. Doing nothing could create “a reputation that Texas is not a business-friendly state,” State Representative Lyle Larson, a Republican, warned fellow lawmakers last month. Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, agrees. “Clearly, not having an adequate water supply will harm us in terms of bringing jobs to Texas and is doing so now, already,” he said recently.

Cargill, the giant food producer, idled a beef-processing plant in Plainview in the Texas Panhandle earlier this year after ranchers thinned their herds because of dry pastures and soaring hay prices. Some 2,000 people lost their jobs in the town of 22,000. Power plants and other industrial operations that depend on water are also worried. One community close to Austin nearly ran out of water last year and had to truck in supplies. That’s a public relations disaster for a state that brags that it does things better than other places.

In a promising twist, a cultural shift seems to be under way. Conserving water is now seen as a priority in a state that dislikes conserving just about anything else.

Midland, an arid West Texas town at the epicenter of the current oil boom, had never imposed watering restrictions until a few years ago. Residents liked coming home to green lawns after a day in the dusty oil fields. Watering rules smacked of big government.

Then drought caused reservoir levels to drop alarmingly. Midland imposed sharp restrictions on outdoor watering and hiked rates, albeit temporarily, on water hogs. Other innovations are on the way: a project to turn sewage into potable water will soon bolster Midland’s drinking supplies, a concept that has drawn interest from around the state and nation.

Wes Perry, an oilman who doubles as Midland’s mayor, put it this way recently: as valuable as oil and gas are, he said, “we are worthless without water.”

Kate Galbraith is a reporter on energy and environment for The Texas Tribune.
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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:19 pm

nebraska wrote:

For me, his story was much more about relationships and the unequal advantages in life created by having or not having money. It was part of his socialism message rather than an environmental one. It could be a story set in a modern slum with today's powerless poor as easily as set in rural Texas Dust Bowl.


That was my thought exactly, nebraska.

Don't get me started on The Lege (Texas Legislature). That is an excellent article about what is going on around here. Our lake is only 40% full and while we have had some rain to help the flora and fauna, it is not nearly enough to replenish any water sources. The lack of water is having a huge economic impact on our state. We do go through cycles of drought but in the last bad one the population was not as large and the drain on resources was less although the cattle ranchers and the farmers took a huge hit. Here is a good article on the last Texas drought in the 1950's.


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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:57 pm

I sure hope that you guys get some rain. I saw on the news tonight how Chicago got hit with inches and inches of it (and caused a sink hole), and there are supposed to be rainstorms down to New Orleans tonight and tomorrow. But they seem to avoid Texas. :-/
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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:13 pm

Liz wrote:I sure hope that you guys get some rain. I saw on the news tonight how Chicago got hit with inches and inches of it (and caused a sink hole), and there are supposed to be rainstorms down to New Orleans tonight and tomorrow. But they seem to avoid Texas. :-/
Oh it sure did rain, causing widespread flooding. Again. :sad: By official counts, I believe that is now our 3rd “100 year” storm in five years. Last year was a drought year here too though – ironically it was a welcome relief for some of us water-logged urbanites - but this year we are on pace to beat our prior wettest-year-ever, which was 2008. It’s almost as if all that moisture and rain that should be falling down there in Texas and the plains has decided to make its way up here before dumping one deluge after another. I sure wish we could spread that around more evenly. :-/ The water situation in Texas is frightening.

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Re: House of Earth Question #12 - A Prophesy?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:21 pm

Liz wrote:I sure hope that you guys get some rain. I saw on the news tonight how Chicago got hit with inches and inches of it (and caused a sink hole), and there are supposed to be rainstorms down to New Orleans tonight and tomorrow. But they seem to avoid Texas. :-/



:banghead: Nada.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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